Tag Archive | "US Ski Team"

Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train – USSA’s Tom Kelly

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May 22, 2012 (Park City, UT) – In this edition of Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train, Peter Graves speaks with USSA VP of Communications, Tom Kelly, at the recent USSA Convention in Park City, UT. Kelly has been involved in the sport for decades, sporting the role of reporter and photographer along the way, and working with such legends as Tony Wise as his Public Relations Director for the Telemark Lodge, along with the venerable journalist Paul Robbins. He was also the co-owner (with Graves) of Worldwide Nordic, a travel company that specialized in trips to the World Loppet and other international Nordic races. Born and raised in Madison, WI, Kelly is also a member of the FIS Media and Marketing Committee. In his interview, he speaks about Kikkan Randall’s historic season, but more significantly, the impact she and her team mates have created with regards to cross-country skiing in the USA.

Tom Kelly

National Nordic Foundation’s Drive For 25 – GOES LIVE TODAY!

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November 15, 2011 – Today is a very big day for us as we assemble all American cross country ski enthusiasts to stand up together to support our developing skiers. Please join us by making a contribution to the National Nordic Foundation.

Why? Today is about building our base of XC fans in the U.S. and showing our collective support by funding opportunities so our developing athletes can learn to race in Europe against the best in the world. The U.S. has improved from a nation that seldom put a single skier in the top-15 on the World Cup to a nation with Continental Cup, U23, World Cup and World Championship podiums. Yet as a nation, our developing athletes still struggle to afford the racing opportunities required to compete among the best. That, and because you’ll be supporting cross country skiers. The world needs more of them.

Donate HERE. Check back often to see our progress. Once you have donated the program will automatically generate a tax-deductible receipt. While donating, please fill out the comment box and also hit the “like” button to show your support. If you are uncomfortable with online donations, please mail a check to:

National Nordic Foundation
32 West 200 South #149
Salt Lake City 84101

How Much? Whether you can donate $25 or $100, 100% of your money will support over 40 elite U.S. development athletes age 15-28 this winter on racing trips in Europe. Please do what you can. Today is more about developing the total number of XC supporters in the U.S.

We hope you will continue to follow our skiers and support our nation’s pursuit of Olympic cross country success. You may follow these trips this winter at www.nccsef.org. This site is updated weekly with photos and motivating thoughts from the road.

Thank you for your role in XC development. The Drive for 25 is now! Spread the word.

Snow is Here – The Racing Season is Coming…

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October 27, 2011 – The snow has finally fallen enough to accumulate some ski trails up at Hatchers Pass. Lots of pictures and stories have been circulating around already, so I think the word is out that the Alaskan Crew got to ski on October 20th!! Thats so early. What this means is I skied every month of the year this year, besides one! So I skied on snow 11 months of the training year… how many racers can say that???

The skiing has been great. Extra blue, packed tracks, and blue bird cold days!! The APU crew headed up last thursday for a distance ski, and by the following day I was sore. It’s funny how rollerskiing never seems to train the exact same muscles, so you are sore the first ski of the season, regardless. We then skied a second time on saturday… so by the end of the three hour ski, I was cooked. I have to say, this is the main reason that I love training in Alaska. The opportunity to be on snow as much as we are I see as a huge benefit. By getting that early “snow shape” back together in October, you can sometimes jump start the engine for the early racing season.

Speaking of early racing season, I will be on a different path this fall period. For the first time, I will be racing on the World Cup Circuit for Period 1 along with a group of 4 other girls. This has been super exciting news for me, and I have to say, I have been counting down the days for the “2012” experience to begin! The greatest thing about this year is it is the year to experiment and try new things. Because there are no main Championships of the year, I can set my own expectations and goals. Having never raced much in early season, nor raced much on the World Cup Circuit, nor left my home from November 6th until the end of March…… I will be switching things up quite a bit.

Last year I had a small introduction into this top level of racing, and ever since I have been working hard to jump into that category. This fall will be a great opportunity for me to open my eyes wide, learn some new skills and tricks, and have a great time skiing along with the best skiers in the world.

My schedule starts with me Leaving November 6th for Beitostoelen, Norway and follows:
– November 11-13, FIS Races in Beitostoelen
– November 19-20, World Cup in Beito
– November 25-27, World Cup Kuusamo, Finland
– December 3-4, World Cup downtown Dusseldorf, Germany
– December 10-11, World Cup Davos, Switzerland

Following that, December 12th I will fly back to Washington for a short break in Washington before Nationals, early January in Rumford Maine.

Unfortunately this opportunity has come with a price. Being named to the US SKi Team this last year has provided me with the opportunities and the steps at reaching this next level, but it has also provided me with some responsibility for completing these steps. Having major budget cuts this year resulted in the funding being cut for all B-Team level athletes for this top level of competition. What this means for me is that the spot is available for me, but I must find my own funding to get there.

I am not sure on my definite plans for the entire year, but I am going to guess the financial need will remain at the same level through Period 2 as well as Period 3. What it looks like for this first period of racing can be broken down easily between room and board as well as plane tickets to and from Europe, and between race venues. This comes to a total around $8000.

Being an athlete similar to every other nordic athlete in the country, this is not the kind of money we can ask our parents for, or we can raise on a side job. This is the kind of financial support we must find in our supporters and followers. This is also not only a problem for me, but every other talented young athlete in this country that is ready to make another step in their development. It starts at the 16 year old level skier who just made Scando Trips, and continues through the World Juniors level, affecting everyone all the way up to the top level of World Cup Racing.

The Nordic community has been working hard recently to make these unrealistic financial expectations more realistic. With the new push at the National Nordic Foundation level, supporters are beginning to see the sad truth of the financial demands affecting the opportunities for a new level of talent our country is now experiencing. This is just the beginning, but it is a step forward.

Which brings me to my final point. I have a long year in front of me, and it could cost me around $30,000 to race at this level throughout the season. If you would like to support either myself, or the other athletes in getting there; there are several options. As with everything, even the smallest amount makes a difference and builds towards that end goal. Just like us athletes; it wasn’t the 4-hour ski we did that made us fast, but it was the culmination of all those 1 hr., 2hr. and 3hr. workouts that made us great. So please know that every effort is greatly appreciated!

Your options for supporting our skiing goals for the year are:

1) Methow Valley Ski Education Foundation- The community in the Methow has been extremely helpful and supportive towards trying to help make this next step available. The team has created an Elite Opportunity Fund with 501(c)(3) status. Money can be donated to help support the athletes of the Methow participating in international level competition. If you would like to send a tax-deductible donation towards me, or the athletes of the Methow Valley, send to:
MVNSEF Elite Opportunity Fund
PO Box 1063
Winthrop, WA 98862

2) Donations directly towards me. Email me at sbjornsen@alaskapacific.edu if you have questions.

3) Donations towards the National Nordic Foundation, which is a non-profit organization aimed at supporting the nordic athletes of the US. They are recently doing The Drive for 25, which will include a small support of a large spectrum of supporters. Check out this site to get an idea of what we do and learn how to help HERE.

4) Support through the APU Ski Club

There are many ways to help out and support including you standing on the side of the trail cheering and screaming. It all counts, and it all keeps us going. So keep it up, and get ready…. race season is coming!!! Thanks to everyone that has helped so far, and that may help in the future! You guys are truly making it possible!

USA’s Randall and Stephen – Stoked on Sweden

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June 23, 2011 (Ostersund, Sweden) – U.S. XC Ski Teamers Kikkan Randall and Liz Stephen are back from their whirlwind 2.5-week training trip to Sweden where they hung out with the Swedish National Team for some fabulous dryland and on-snow training, including some cultural exchange while making new friends.

“Last year I trained for a couple of weeks in Norway during the off season and at the last FIS Athlete Council meeting I chatted with Anna Haag and Emil Joensson and they invited me to Sweden to train with their team,” Randall told SkiTrax on her return. “Liz was interested as well so things took off from there.”

Randall and Stephen logged some great dryland and on-snow sessions in Mora, Ostersund and Torsby where they checked out the ski tunnel. Ostersund, located in the middle of Sweden on Lake Storsjön, is known as Winter City (Vinterstaden) and has hosted several National and World Championships including the Nordic Games, a precursor to the Winter Olympic Games – read more HERE.

According to Randall Ostersund is an awesome skiing hub. “It’s like a mini-athlete’s village. Many of the country’s top athletes including lots of xc skiers live there so there’s plenty of ongoing activities and opportunities.”

“The ski tunnel facility in Torsby is uber-cool. You can be roller skiing in the morning and be on snow in the afternoon. The temperature inside the tunnel is a brisk -3 degrees Celsius. Gliding on snow during the summer there reminded me why I love this sport,” quipped Randall.

The duo were introduced to Swedish cooking along with attending Haag’s cousin’s graduation ceremony and are even more hooked on Scandinavia. “We’re stoked in Sweden,” added Randall. So how’s her Swedish? “You know as much as I’ve travelled around the world because of skiing I’ve only been able to pick up some casual phrases here and there because everyone speaks such good English.”

Look for a full report from Randall and Stephen on their Swedish escapades… meanwhile, the above pics should whet your appetite. Skol.

Enter the U.S. Ski Team Women’s Video Challenge

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June 14, 2011 – The U.S. Ski Team women are inviting women’s cross country ski teams and summer training groups throughout North America to participate in a video challenge. Rally your team, training group, or summer training camp and send in a video of your summer training experience by July 15, 2011!

– Bring together all women ski training in North America for one project
– Emphasize the importance of group training sessions
– Celebrate and generate awareness of the number of women training in North America
– Take a step back to remember what is fun about skiing for you and your team

Video Requirements:
– 3 minutes in length
– Include a brief introduction to the team or training group
– Video should show your group training together
– Humor and hardcore training are encouraged!
– The color pink is recommended

U.S. Ski Team’s Entry:


To submit your video: Upload it to www.youtube.com and title your video “U.S. Ski Team Women’s Video challenge – (team/group name)”, and send the link and a brief description of your training group to xcwomenrock@gmail.com. Keep your link “unlisted” until July 15th. All videos must be submitted by July 15th. The online video festival will begin on July 20th. All videos will be featured on the USSA Nordic Facebook channel.

Prizes will be awarded.

Kikkan Randall Conquers Tallest Peak in Maui

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April 28, 2011 – U.S. Ski Team member Kikkan Randall is currently enjoying some well-deserved vacation time in Hawaii after a long competitive XC ski season, which included World Cup medals and a top 10 in the overall World Cup standings. According to Randall’s Twitter feed, she’s not slacking off and sitting on the couch. She has been staying active, spending a lot of time on the bike, as well as canoeing and paddle boarding. She recently cycled up one of Hawaii’s tallest peak, Haleakala at 3, 055m / 10,023 feet.

Follow Randall on Twitter HERE.

Fischer Skis & Boots Dominate Nordic World Ski Championships with Record Number of Medals

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March 30, 2011 (Auburn, NH) – Fischer Skis announced today that its skis and boots dominated the Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo, Norway, and Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, held February 24 through March 6, 2011. The company beat its record figures from the Vancouver Winter Games to win 50 gold, 45 silver and 35 bronze medals, making Fischer more successful than ever before. Overall, 71% of the ski medals and 32% of the boot medals went to athletes who choose to compete on Fischer equipment.

U.S. Ski Team member and Fischer ski athlete Kikkan Randall finished third in the sprint rankings and tenth in the Overall World Cup. Her third place finish in the overall sprint was the best finish ever by a U.S. Nordic sprint athlete.

“Fischer has a long history of dominating the race circuit, and our performance at the 2011 World Championships proves that our commitment to innovation is second to none,” said Chris Hall, Nordic racing director, Fischer Skis U.S. “We are especially pleased with the success of our boots, which exceeded our expectations.”

“This World Cup season has been my most successful yet,” said Kikkan Randall. “I rely on the consistency that Fischer skis deliver to help me compete in every stage of the season, and I am already excited to see what we can accomplish together in the coming year.”

For a complete list of Fischer’s Nordic World Ski Championships medals and winners, please click HERE.

U.S. Ski Team Enjoys An Evening with US Ambasador

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March 01, 2011 (Oslo, Norway) – U.S. Ski Team athletes, coaches, staff and trustees gathered on Monday evening for a social reception at the US Ambassador’s residence located in a lovely, historic building in Oslo. US Ambassador Mr. Barry White and Mrs. White welcomed guests for a chance to mingle and chat about the on-going 2011 FIS World Nordic Skiing Championships underway in Oslo. Here’s is a small selection of photos from the evening – read more HERE.

NCCSEF, USST Partner to Fund all Athletes to World Nordic Championships

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February 14, 2011 – The National Cross-Country Ski Education Foundation has partnered with the US Ski Team to fully fund all U. S. Cross Country athletes who represent the U.S. at the 2011 World Nordic Ski Championships.

Dave Knoop, NCCSEF director, states “The World Championships are the premier Nordic competition outside of the Olympics. We wanted to make sure each athlete who qualifies for the Championships could focus on their preparation for the games and not worry about covering the cost for this trip.”

“We will be going to Norway with a group of athletes who have all earned this honor with strong performances this season,” said Nordic Program Director John Farra. “And we are pleased that are at the championships as one united team all will be equally funded and supported. It’s a special honor for each of these athletes to be able to compete in Norway.”

NCCSEF Ski Fundraising Challenge
The NCCSEF challenges the ski community at large to help fund these athletes. Make your tax deductible contribution to NCCSEF designating World Championships and we will ensure that your contribution goes to offsetting trip expenses for all athletes. To contribute and learn about NCCSEF visit www.nccsef.org

2011 World Nordic Ski Championships U. S. Cross Country Ski Team
– Tad Elliott – Central Cross Country
– Lars Flora – Alaska Pacific University
– Kris Freeman – Andover Outing Club
– Simi Hamilton – Sun Valley Ski Ed Foundation
– Noah Hoffman – Aspen Valley Ski Club
– Torin Koos – Methow Olympic Development
– Andy Newell – Stratton Mountain School

– Morgan Arritola – Sun Valley Ski Ed Foundation
– Holly Brooks – Alaska Pacific University
– Sadie Bjornsen -Alaska Pacific University
– Jessie Diggins- Central Cross Country
– Kikkan Randall – Alaska Pacific University
– Ida Sargent – Craftsbury Green Racing Project
– Liz Stephen- Burke Mountain Academy

2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Cross Country Schedule – Oslo, Norway
– Feb. 24 – Freestyle sprint
– Feb. 26 – W’s 15k Pursuit
– Feb 27 – M 30k Pursuit
– Feb. 28- W 10k Classic
– Mar. 1 – M 15k Classic
– Mar. 2 – Team classic sprint
– Mar. 3 – W Relay
– Mar. 4 – M Relay
– Mar. 5 – W 30k Freestyle
– Mar. 6 – M 50k Freestyle

Gloersen and Falla Win Beitostølen Sprints – USA’s Koos 4th, Newell and Sargent 5th

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February 11, 2011 (Beitostølen, Norway) – The US Ski Team had a strong showing at today’s FIS freestyle sprints in Beitostølen, Norway, with Torin Koos and Andy Newell finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the men’s final, which was won by Anders Gloersen (NOR). Ida Sargent took fifth in the women’s final, while Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR) snapped up the win.

The American squad started very strongly in the qualifiers, with three in the top 10 in the men’s category: Newell 3rd, Koos 4th, and Simeon Hamilton 10th. Hamilton finished sixth in his quarterfinal heat, however, and did not advance.

In the women’s ranks, three U.S. skiers also qualified in the top 10, with Sadie Bjornsen 4th, Jessica Diggins 5th, and Sargent 6th. Bjornsen went on to take second in her quarterfinal heat, while Diggins and Sargent placed 1-2 in theirs. Sargent was the only one to advance through the semis, taking fourth in her heat, while Bjornsen and Diggins were shut out with fifth and sixth-place efforts.

Other U.S. results: Tad Elliott and Skyler Davis qualified 32nd and 47th, respectively, in the men’s event, while Liz Stephen and Morgan Arritola finished 30th and 42nd in the women’s qualifications, respectively. Stephen moved through to the quarterfinals, but was knocked out in the first heat.

Men’s Qualifications HERE.
Women’s Qualifications HERE.

Men’s Finals HERE.
Women’s Finals HERE.

The Sasseville Report – Did you Know There was a World Cup in Russia this Week?

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February 07, 2011 (Barrie, ON) – What would happen if you held a World Cup and nobody came? Well, you would call it Rybinsk, Russia and there would be free world cup points for just about everyone who was there.

This past weekend there were three – yes three World Cup races on the calendar, a distance pursuit, an individual sprint and a team relay. For the distance race there were only 33 men (11 Russian) and 30 women (11 Russian). It didn’t get much better for the sprints with fields of 54 men (15 Russian) and 34 women (16 Russian). The relay for women had 7 teams (4 Russian) and 10 for men (again 4 Russian).

This is brutal. There has got to be something wrong with the schedule to have so few skiers in a World Cup in the first week of February. When there have been World Cups in Canada the last few years they have been better supported. The Ontario Masters Championship in Parry Sound had almost as many skiers! This has to be an embarrassment to the FIS Cross Country Committee.

Now, I’ve been to Rybinsk and it is not that bad there. I know that some countries were having National championships, but that should be no excuse. In fact, I don’t think that this should be allowed to happen either. We have the same problem in North America, but we still send our best skiers to compete at the World Cup.

Meanwhile, it should be no surprise that the Russian skiers dominated the result list for these races – at least for the men. Alexei Pethukov won the sprint, Ilia Chernousov won the distance race and the Russian 1 team won the relay.

It shows how far the Russian women have fallen when they cannot win a race with at home against such small fields. They couldn’t even win the relay with 4 teams out of 7 in the field – the Italian women beat them. Katja Visnar and Vesna Fabjan of Slovenia were 1st and 2nd in the sprints and Justina Kowalczyk of Poland won the distance race and was 3rd in the sprints. She has pretty well cemented the overall World Cup title for this season as the only person who could beat her, Marit Bjoergen was at home, once again, in Norway training for the World Championships in March.

In the 1990’s the Russian women were unbeatable. Of course, we now know why. A good, structured, well organized doping program will do that for you. Now they are ordinary and need to get their act together quickly in order to have a decent showing in Sochi in 2014.

There’s a two-week break in the schedule before the World Cup resumes in Drammen, Norway on February 19-20 with a short distance race and individual sprints. Hopefully we should see full fields for this event and truly have a “World Cup” race.

I can’t close this week without some commentary on the World Junior and World U23 racing from Otepaa, Estonia last week. In my opinion, a finish in the top 10 at either level is a great indication that a skier has the talent and potential to be a consistent point scorer (top 30) at the World Cup level.

A good way to look at it is to look at junior and professional hockey in North America. If a junior hockey player is drafted in the first round by a professional team then they have a good chance of becoming a National Hockey League player. Not all of them do, of course, and there are players who are not drafted in the first round who make it. I think that less than 5% of junior hockey players ever play in the NHL.

Most of these junior players who are drafted end up playing for a year or more in the AHL – kind of the equivalent of the U23 level in skiing. Not all players in the AHL make it to the NHL – again a small percentage and only the best move on. Some of the very best junior players go right to the NHL, but they are the exception.

When I look at the North American results from Otepaa I see the same thing. Alex Harvey is World Champion at U23 and finishes consistently in the top 20 on the World Cup. He was on the podium a number of times as a junior, as well. In hockey he would have been a top draft pick as a junior and would likely have been in the NHL in his first or second year as a pro.

The other skiers that finished in the top 10 – Kevin Sandau, Jesse Cockney, Len Valjas, Jessie Diggins and Noah Hoffman all have a shot at a career as a World Cup skier. Emily Nishikawa, Michael Somppi, Alysson Marshall and Sadie Bjornsen had top 20 finishes – kind of like being drafted in the 2nd round of a hockey draft. They have shown some talent, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Don’t get me wrong, there are no guarantees that any of these skiers will make it on the World Cup (except Alex Harvey – he is already there). It also doesn’t mean that the skiers who were there from North America but outside the top 10 or top 20 (or those who didn’t make the trip) will not make it eventually, but it is going to take them much more time and work.

Malcolm Gladwell in his great book “Outliers” told us that the difference most of the time between those who “make it” and those who don’t is not talent but work and opportunity. He points out that it seems to take 10,000 hours of work for someone to be the best in just about anything.

At an age of 22 or less, all of these skiers have not put in the time yet to know if they are going to make it. They also need to continue to have the opportunity to race and train with the best in the world. I hope that the USST and the Canadian NST continue to give these young skiers as many opportunities as possible to do this.

Johaug Destroys Alpe Cermis as Kowalczyk Defends her TdS Title – Randall 21st

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January 9, 2010 (Alpe Cermis, Italy) – Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) claimed her second consecutive Tour title on Sunday but all eyes were on Norway’s Therese Johaug who put on a show of force as the fastest woman up Alpe Cermis this morning, dominating the final stage of the 2011 Tour de Ski.

Johaug flew up the 9km uphill handicap start pursuit course to take the win by over a minute ahead of second place finisher, teammate Marte Elden. Third place completed the Norwegian sweep, going to Marthe Kristoffersen.

Kowalczyk finished 4th on the day, good enough to become the first person to defend the overall title. Johaug’s stellar performance earned her 2nd overall, atop Italy’s Marianna Longa who finished 3rd.

Overall winner Kowalczyk started cautiously compared to Johaug, who started strong at 3:21 behind the leader in the handicap start race.   Johaug picked off racer after racer, passing Slovenia’s Petra Majdic by 3.5km. By 5.6km Johaug had overtaken Italy’s Arianna Follis to claim 3rd.  Her charge continued up the mountain, taking 2nd away from Longa by 7.4kms.

Closing in on the finish she was taking huge chunks out of Kowalczyk’s lead but wasn’t able to close the final 1:21 gap, though certainly not for lack of effort. Though she wasn’t able to take the overall away from Kowalczyk, Johaug still put in a 100,000 Swiss Frank performance, her prize for 2nd overall. Kowalczyk takes home 150,000 for the win and Longa got 50,000 for her trouble.

“It is a really good victory to me,” said Kowalczyk post-race in a FIS XC interview. “It has been 10 tough days. I am very happy about being on top of Alpe Cermis, and next week will be all about resting.”

Johaug was triumphant with second place. “I had a dream about finishing second today – my shape is really good and I had great skis. This is the best I have done in my career so far. It will be good to come home and take a break – Oslo is of course my dream of the season.”

With large chunks of change on the line, considering the shocking attrition rate for a race like this, it’s safe to say the winners earned it. Of the 58 women who began the Tour, only 32 finished.

Among them was top American sprinter, Kikkan Randall, who became the first American woman to complete the Tour de Ski, finishing 23rd on the day and 21st overall. Completing the Tour was a landmark in Randall’s career and her strong effort on the final Stage 8 up Alpe Cermis was uplifting compared to yesterday’s 10km classic.

“Yesterday was pretty disappointing so for sure I wanted to have a strong day to finish the Tour,” Randall told SkiTrax in a phone interview. “This is by far the toughest, hardest, steepest climb I’ve ever done – nothing compares. And to complete it after the last seven stages…whew – I’ve got a lot of respect for the women at the front.”

“Kikkan felt like she missed a few opportunities out there today,” said US head coach Chris Grover. “But overall she’s satisfied. The whole Tour has been a learning experience us. It’s the first time these guys have attempted it.”

Randall said she thinks the Tour is cool – she loves the different stages and the concept. In fact she told us the rest days were almost an intrusion. “I like the back-to-back racing and felt good each stage. It was hard to get going again after the rest days and almost felt like it was better not to have them. Now that I’ve completed the Tour I know what it takes. The mental element is huge – you need to dig in when you’re really tired – that’s the biggest part of the experience that I’m taking away from Tour.”

Randall, teammate Andy Newell and Grover will stay on in Val di Fiemme preparing for the upcoming WCup skate sprint in Liberec next weekend transferring there on Monday. She said she’ll take it easy over the next few days in preparation and looks forward to it and the possible match up against Norway’s Marit Bjoergen who sat out the Tour.

“I’m looking forward to the Liberec sprints after some rest. The next 2-3 sprints are all skating which is my strongest suit so I’ll be ready. Haven’t heard if Bjoergen will be in Liberec or not. But if I do get the chance to race her it will be sweet practice for Oslo!! Hope Follis and Majdic will be there too.”

Women’s 9km Pursuit Results HERE.
Women’s 9km Pursuit finishing order HERE.
Final Overall HERE.
Final Overall detail HERE.

USA’s Lodwick 4th – Stecher Wins NCombined WCup Normal Hill/10km in Ramsau

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December 18, 2010 (Ramsau, Austria) – The U.S. Ski Team’s Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) came back to the World Cup in style Saturday, finishing fourth and missing the podium by a tenth. Austria’s Mario Stecher picked up the win. It marked a return to the World Cup for the Olympic silver medalist, who took off for the opening two weekends to train at home. Two weeks ago he swept a pair of Continental Cups in Steamboat Springs. Bjoern Kircheisen (GER) and Johannes Rydzek (GER) finished second and third in today’s competition.

Lodwick, who had been fourth in the jump and started 16 seconds back. He moved up quickly and battled for a podium spot the entire race, before losing out in a sprint with German Johannes Rydzek for third, 15.5 seconds behind Stecher. German Bjoern Kircheisen was second, just nine-tenths from the win.

Lodwick was part of a large pack that went head to head much of the race and was in a strong position going into the final kilometer, passing World Cup leader Jason Lamy Chappuis of France, who finished fifth. But he was not able to hold off the hard charging Rydzek.

Lodwick’s teammate Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) had another good race finishing, taking 23rd for his third points scoring finish of the season. Lodwick and company will be at it again Sunday with the final pre-holiday competition in Ramsau.

Individual Normal Hill/10k

Full results HERE.

1. Mario Stecher (AUT) 25:46.40
2. Bjoern Kircheisen (GER) 25:47.30
3. Johannes Rydzek (GER) 26:01.90
4. Todd Lodwick (USA) 26:02.00
5. Jason Lam Chappulis (FRA) 26:03.20

23. Bryan Fletcher (USA) 27:06.90
42. Taylor Fletcher (USA) 28:43.10
47. Nick Henderson (USA) 29:30.30
59. Eric Camerota (USA) 31:31.80

Ballin’ in Beitostølen

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February 04, 2010 (Beitostølen, Norway) – Tomorrow will be the third day of the Scandinavian Cup races here in Beitostølen. And I couldn’t be more excited! Originally, we had thought the skate sprint, classic 5/10km and skate 15/30km (which has since been shortened to 10/15km) was a mini-tour, but it turns out they’re separate races.

No matter. The US decided we’d MAKE it a mini-tour! So going into my third day of racing in a row, I’m a little tired but pretty stoked on life since it’s been beautiful out – bluebird skies and sun – and I’m making friends with the Norwegian ladies along the way.

Speaking of Norwegian ladies, there ares some seriously talented, fast skiers out here. It was great to be able to race alongside them and gain experience. You have to get your butt kicked a few times before you get better!

For me, the skate sprint was fun, although this was the second sprint course I’ve recently done where placement was crucial. The course was such that, once you left the stadium and rounded the first corner, it was extremely difficult to pass, so getting off to a fast start was ultra-important. This is something I’ve been working on, and I still need to tune up my fast twitch!

I was slightly disappointed with my semifinal; although I had the start I wanted, the girl to my right skied over my skis and I tripped, and ended up leaving the stadium in 6th place. While I made more than one attempt to pass, I was unprepared for the level of aggressiveness out there and wasn’t able to make it to the final. But that’s what I’m here for – to figure out how to race in all sorts of conditions and courses!

The classic race today was, for me, one of those days where it’s beautiful and sunny outside with perfect tracks, and you can be racing but having fun and enjoying the day as well! The US put in a good day’s work; Sadie led the day in 8th, Morgan got 12th, I finished in 15th, Liz finished 28th and Ida came in 35th. Simi led the men in 19th and Tad finished in 74th. I was pumped on the race because I’ve been working on my classic for a long time, and it’s great to have a race where I feel confident in my technique and striding up longer, steeper hills.

Looking forward to racing tomorrow!